Answering Glenn Beck’s Question: Why Do Conservatives Trust Trump?

Over at Hot Air, they’re discussing the back and forth between Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity over Donald Trump.

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Beck asks a good question here and then offers a good answer to it. Why, he says, do conservative opinion-makers like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity give Trump a pass on his many, many ideological heresies when normally they’re bulldogs in calling out centrists like Romney for lesser offenses? Beck’s answer: Trump has a swagger that Romney doesn’t. When Trump tells you he’s going to seal the border and destroy the Beltway establishment, you believe him because he doesn’t care who disapproves of him or his objectives. He’s going to do what he sets out to do. After trying for decades and failing to make American government incrementally more conservative, some righties are ready to gamble on a guy who, if, if, if he’s true to his word, will achieve more in that vein than any president since Reagan. Essentially, after six election cycles of making low-risk bets on business-as-usual Republicans, conservatives are willing to make a high-stakes gamble on a guy who won’t be business as usual but, er, might not govern as a Republican either.

…The other take on Trump’s appeal is my own, something I’ve been thinking about since he announced his immigration plan this weekend. Trump and Ted Cruz are frequently lumped in together (including by me) because they’re both overt populists and both seen as essentially right-wing phenomena even though Cruz’s base is more uniformly conservative than Trump’s is. In an important way, though, Cruz and Trump are opposites. The point of Cruz’s trademark rhetoric about “bold colors, not pale pastels” is that he’s a true believer in conservatism’s power to win over the masses if it’s presented unapologetically, in its strong form, by an able messenger like Ronald Reagan (or, of course, Ted Cruz). Give the voters real conservatism and they’ll flock to you, whatever the pollsters or the demographics say. It’s an essentially religious belief in the power of the creed to convert infidels so long as it’s given a fair hearing. Trump fans, on some level, have given up that belief assuming they ever had it to begin with, I think. They wish Cruz was right but they just don’t think conservatism is an electoral winner anymore, either because the character of the country has changed or because changing demographics have made it impossible. At this point, the best deal you’re going to get is a guy like Trump who’s compromised ideologically but seems to have some conservative instincts, most notably on immigration, and who seems like he really might be willing to push the country in that direction (on certain issues) if he’s given power.

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If you want to understand why conservatives are willing to at least give Donald Trump a chance, you have to look at what has happened over the last few election cycles.

In 2008, the one guy grassroots activists didn’t want as a candidate was John McCain and whom did we get? John McCain — and he lost.

In 2012, the one guy grassroots activists didn’t want as a candidate was Mitt Romney and whom did we get? Mitt Romney — and he lost.

In 2010, conservatives turned out en masse to elect Republicans who were promising to fight Obama. Then, after the base delivered a victory, Republicans in Congress delivered nothing and said they needed the Senate to accomplish anything.

Then in 2014, conservatives turned out en masse to elect Republicans who were promising to fight Obama. Then Republicans in Congress betrayed the people who put them in office to cooperate with Obama.

For six years, Republicans in Congress have promised to fight Obama and stand up for conservatism and have delivered nothing but stupidity, corruption, weakness, betrayal and failure.

So, why not at least hear Trump out?

He’s certainly qualified to be President. He’s not hemmed in by political correctness. He is a tough negotiator. He can’t be bought off. He’s unquestionably a fighter.

In other words, he’s strong in all the areas the Republican Party has been proven to be weak again and again over the last few years.

Sure, ideologically he has been squishy in the past and says he has “evolved,” which is a cause for concern. However, after years of voting for the conservative candidates who don’t even try to accomplish anything once they get in office, there doesn’t seem to be much risk in letting Trump flesh out his positions and giving him a shot if they sound good.

If Trump accomplishes three conservative objectives and doesn’t even make an effort in three others, then we’d still be better off with him than someone who promises to be the most conservative candidate in every area but doesn’t have the guts to fight for anything.

Would someone like Ted Cruz or Scott Walker be better candidates? Maybe, but as we’ve seen in the last couple of elections, the cream doesn’t always rise to the top. Once the primaries begin, Cruz, Walker or even Trump may not be in the game. If Cruz and Trump are both in the game in Iowa, conservatives may abandon Trump for one of those candidates. On the other hand, if the choice in Iowa is Trump or Jeb, Cruz and Walker’s voters may be smarter to go to Trump.

Of course, we have a long way to go and we have no way of knowing how Trump will be doing in February of next year. In the interim, why not enjoy all the extra eyeballs he brings to the debate, thank him for moving the immigration debate to the Right and bringing in new voters and give him a chance to make his case?

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